Christianity 201

December 14, 2021

If Dead, Jesus Couldn’t Save Anybody

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:33 pm
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Jesus and his disciples left Galilee and went up to the villages near Caesarea Philippi. As they were walking along, he asked them, “Who do people say I am?” – Mark 8:27

[Jesus] I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.John 3:46

Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” – John 20:28

This is our fourth time with freelance writer and editor Rebecca LuElla Miller, whose blog A Christian Worldview of Fiction is about topical issues, Christian fiction reviews, and occasional devotional insights. Clicking the link which follows takes you there directly.

Who Is Jesus?

I recently heard a speaker recount a situation in which a young adult was asked, Who is Jesus? The responder started some nebulous answer, then stalled out altogether. Simply, he didn’t have a clear answer. Was Jesus a religious figure, the founder of some new religion? Was He a good teacher who pointed people to a more loving way to live? Maybe He was nothing more than a cute baby that came into the world a long time ago so we could all have Christmas.

Just exactly who is Jesus? It’s an important question and one each person needs to be able to answer. Of course there are the answers skeptics give—a fairly unimportant first century Jewish rabbi whose followers turned into a cult figure people started to worship. Something along that line. It’s hard to deny that he did in fact live, though some atheists go so far as to ignore Biblical and extra-Biblical evidence to the contrary.

The people of His day actually struggle with the question, too. Who is this man? Some said He was a prophet, maybe Elijah. Herod wondered if He was John the Baptist come back to life. More than one person, though, thought He just might be the Messiah, the Christ of God.

After all, the Jews had been waiting and looking for this Promised King. They believed the Messiah would free them from pagan rule. The current pagan rule was Rome, though the Jews had been conquered and enslaved by various other nations. But at the time that Jesus came on the scene, it was the Romans they hoped He would defeat.

But to be honest, “they” didn’t all hope Jesus was the Messiah. In fact the contemporary Jewish leaders contended with Him at every turn. At one point they accused Him of doing miracles by the power of Satan. Ultimately they became so jealous of His following and so fearful they would lose their own positions of authority, they conspired to have Him killed. At that point, they actually didn’t care if He was the Messiah. Maybe they had even stopped believing that God would send a Messiah.

Certainly when Jesus was executed, when He hung on the cross, dying, I’d venture to guess that close to 100% of the people stopped believing that this Jesus, the carpenter from Nazareth, was God’s Messiah. I mean, how could you have a dead Messiah? How could He save anybody if He was dead?

What they all missed, even Jesus’s followers, was that the very act of dying was the means God chose for their salvation.

In many ways, it’s more surprising that the Jews missed it because their whole history was littered with sacrifice: Passover lambs for the life of the first born in every family; sacrifices for the sins of the people; scapegoats for the sins of the nation; a ram caught in a thicket as a substitute for Isaac. All through Jewish history, sacrifices to save. But along comes Jesus who dies, and they miss who He is, what He’s doing.

Actually, one of those hated Roman soldiers understood better. As Jesus asked God to forgive the men who were killing Him, or perhaps when the earth shook or the sky went dark in the middle of the afternoon, this centurion figured out that Jesus was not just a run-of-the-mill guy. “Surely, this was the Son of God,” he concluded.

What did he know about God? About His Son? Had he been in Jerusalem when Jesus caused the lame man to walk? Did he hear the rumors about Lazarus coming back to life? Or about Jesus multiplying a few loaves of bread and a couple fish so that He could feed 5000 people? We don’t know. But this Roman “pagan” was convinced, as Jesus breathed His last, that this Man was indeed the Son of God.

But that brings us back to the point that had the Jews stumped: how could Jesus save anybody if He was dead? Besides what we can see more clearly in hindsight—that Jesus in fact saved by dying—it was a realistic question. I mean, the Messiah was to be a king, to reign forever. So a dead man wouldn’t qualify, would he?

That part they got right.

Which is why Jesus didn’t stay dead…

… He is risen. He is risen indeed! Jesus, the Messiah, the Christ of God, His very Son is risen and alive and will one day return to take His rightful throne.


Related: From Christmas two years ago, check out This Is Why Jesus Came.


I Peter.1.3 …It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, 4 and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.


Subscribers: There was an editing error in yesterday’s devotional which has since been corrected. In the phrase “you shall have no other Gods,” verse 23 of Exodus 20 says “alongside me” or “to rival me” while the shorter version often quoted as part of the Ten Commandments just says, “no other Gods,” full stop. The paragraph which follows was clear that the shorter reading “appears to create an either/or situation. In verse 3 it’s going to be Yahweh, and nobody else, but in verse 23, it’s picturing a situation where there are competing gods both vying for attention at the same time.” Obviously both situations can occur in the lives of different people.

March 3, 2021

Accepting Our Acceptance

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:33 pm
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Another day to highlight a writer here for the first time. Melissa Neeb lives in Minnesota in the U.S. and has written for a variety of publications. Her blog is Faith in the Mess where she writes about mental health, addiction, parenting and marriage. As usual, we urge you to click the header which follows to read this at source. Because this particular article was published just hours ago, we’re going to close comments here so you can leave a comment there.

Accepting Jesus May Be Easier Than Accepting Ourselves

I accepted Jesus into my heart at a very young age. I knew I was precious to Him and always had a seat at His table as His beloved child and daughter. The unconditional love and forgiveness and grace of God was a gift I could easily accept.

What took much longer to accept, decades perhaps, was myself.

I couldn’t accept my fearfulness. My over-sensitivity. How easily I was embarrassed and cried.

I couldn’t accept my shyness, or my depression and anxiety, or my body.

I couldn’t accept my inability to put on weight, or my awkwardness around guys, or my terror of public speaking.

I couldn’t accept my indecision, my passivity, or my lack of boundaries.

I couldn’t accept that the traumas I had endured had permanently left scars and changed me.

Decades after accepting Jesus into my heart, I was still having a difficult time accepting myself and all my obvious (to me) flaws. I floundered and failed, doubted and rebelled until I reached the very end of myself.

That is when God took over.

He whispered into the recesses of my desensitized heart until I started to feel Him working again and transforming me into who He created me to be. He kept working, challenging my perceptions, and reminding me who HE said I was.

I started repeating His promises to myself all day long. That I am the daughter of the King. That I was loved into being. That Jesus left the 99 to chase down and bring me back into His strong arms. That I was created with a purpose, with a divine calling on my life.

I had to learn how to accept myself and let Him use my weakness to showcase His power.

Friend, if you are unable to accept yourself, please meditate on these affirmations. Say them out loud. Write them down. Put them on your mirror. Insert your name into these verses. Start believing it.

I AM CHOSEN.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
1 Peter 2:9 (NIV)

GOD COVERS ME WITH HIS SHELTER AND PROTECTION.

He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Psalm 91:4 (NLT)

I AM WONDERFULLY MADE.

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.
Psalm 139:14 (NKJV)

GOD IS WORKING IT OUT FOR MY GOOD.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28 (NIV)

GOD IS FOR ME.

What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?
Romans 8:31 (NLT)

Let me remind you, precious one, of this truth. If you can accept Jesus into your heart, if you can accept Him as your Savior and Protector and Healer and Friend, if you can accept His boundless grace and mercy, then surely you can accept the being that was created in the image of God, whose body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is beloved beyond measure.

Yourself.

January 17, 2011

Focus on Jesus

I have frequented Texas pastor Trey Morgan’s blog even before I started my own.   This appeared first on his blog last week as Eight Things That Amaze Me About Jesus.


  1. He Cared About People. We need more people like this. Jesus put others needs before his own. He didn’t just feel sorry for people, he actually served others, loved them and guided them into a relationship with his Father. He didn’t look for “deserving” people to care for (there were none) … but “undeserving.” He healed, fed and touched those in need (Mark 10:45). He taught us what real ministry is: Service. There was no class distinction for Jesus. He cared for the fishermen, tax collectors, the adulterer and the 5 time divorcee. He cared about people.
  2. Jesus Was A Man of Action. His life would have been one big action movie. There was nothing boring about his life. He spent his time here not just telling people how to live, but showing (action) people how to live (John 14:9). He calls you and I to the same life of adventure, and anybody who says being a follower of Jesus is boring … doesn’t have a clue what they’re talking about.
  3. Jesus was a Communicator. There seems to be two kinds of teachers in this world … communicators and intellectuals. Communicators take the difficult and make it simple. Intellectuals take the simple and make it difficult. Unfortunately, there are far too many intellectuals trying to communicate the Gospel today. Jesus was simply a communicator. Jesus didn’t preach many “expository” sermons and nor did he quote lots of scripture, however, the overwhelming majority of the time he told stories and painted pictures. He taught with a towel, a bird, a flower, a shepherd, a son, a coin, a flower, a child, a plank and other stories to make his point. He knew how to communicate.
  4. Jesus Had Something To Say. After he preached the sermon on the mount, the people were amazed by his teaching because he taught with authority (Matthew 7:28-29). Like the old E.F. Hutton commercial, when Jesus talked, people listened. Jesus taught on significant things that people needed to know. Things like eternity, death, how to treat one another, how to forgive and how to enter the Kingdom of God. He didn’t spend much time preaching about the Hittites, Perizzites or Jebusites.
  5. Jesus Offended the Religious People & Hung Out With Sinners. The only people who Jesus looked down on were the “religious” people who looked down on others. Jesus didn’t give a rip what the religious people thought of him. Jesus called them snakes, vipers and white washed tombs (Matthew 23:25-36). Instead, Jesus hung out with sinners. The people Jesus reached out to were the “sinners”, the prostitutes, the fishermen, the adulterer, the divorcee and the tax collectors (Luke 19:10, Matthew 9:12). Jesus hung out with the wrong type of people. He hung out with them so much that he was even accused of being a drunkard and a glutton.
  6. Jesus Came as a Common Man. It amazes me that Jesus, the Son of God, came not as a prince born in a fancy clean castle, but instead as a common man born in a barn. He worked, sweated, hurt, became angry, was happy, was sad, was tempted and experienced death. All the same things I experience day to day. He knows what it’s like to be a common person and relates to my struggles (Hebrews 2:18).
  7. Jesus Offered What No One Else Could. Sales people will promise you the sky, but only Jesus can give you peace and salvation (John 14:27, John 14:6). No one can give you what Jesus can.
  8. Jesus … (You Fill in # 8 With One You Like!)

~Trey Morgan

April 5, 2010

Why Should Anyone *Ever* Hear the Gospel?

The church I grew up had a huge missions conference every year in which every available bit of wall space was covered with banners sporting all manner of quotations and slogans.

The one that is most memorable is:

Why should anyone hear the gospel twice before everyone has heard it once?

I’ve often thought about that.   It does seem a bit unfair that North Americans experience so much exposure to the gospel message while in other parts of the world people are still waiting to hear this message for the first time.

Sometimes it amazes me that anyone in any part of the world ever gets to hear the gospel.  What I mean is this:  It is truly amazing that such a message of good news even exists.

Philip Yancey quotes Walter Wink saying:

If Jesus had never lived we never would have been able to invent him.

I would add:

If this gospel of grace, forgiveness, atonement and justification had never been invented, no fiction writer would have ever been able to compose it or conceive of it.

That’s good news.

When with the ransomed in glory
His face I at last I shall see
‘Twil be my joy through the ages
To sing of his love for me.